Celebrations return to the South for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is being celebrated by communities across the South to mark China's most important festival of the year.

Also known as the Spring Festival, it represents the start of the new year in the traditional Lunar calendar.

February 1, 2022 sets off the year of the tiger, which symbolises strength and courage.

While many gatherings were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, colourful street celebrations are set to return to Southampton on the weekend.

Public celebrations are set to take place in Southampton city centre

A public event that features traditional lion and dragon dancing will be held at Guildhall Square and MAST Mayflower Studios, where the Chinese population numbers around 4,000.

Celebrations in the city centre will also include cultural and craft workshops, along with a show by local performance artists.

Michael Ng, Chair person of the Chinese Association of Southampton said the public displays are are a way for people to share their culture and colourful dancers with the public.

He said: "We come from a country, China and the Far East, where celebrating Chinese New Year is always in public. So when we came to the UK at the beginning, it's very hard to do it in public. But later on, we make it that we follow space and the manpower to do it in the public."

Michael Ng, Chair person of the Chinese Association of Southampton

All about the Year of the Tiger:

  • Tiger Signs were born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998 and 2010

  • People born on the year of the Tiger are thought to be adventurous and brave, but can be short-tempered

  • Famous Tiger signs include Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Cruise and Usain Bolt

  • 2022 is the year of the Water Tiger - one of five elements which include Fire, Earth, Wood and Metal

Many families in the South are also keeping Chinese traditions at home.

This includes decorating the house, making New Year dumplings, and giving red envelopes containing money to children.

Melody Kimmons-Tsai, from the High Weald town of Cranbrook, said she wants her two children to know part of her culture, even though they are "embracing" the English culture.

"It's also more fun to know a different part of the world. My boys they are just have Taiwanese Chinese. I still want to pass on this tradition and culture to them."

"Because of this Chinese New Year, we can have more special activities like decorating the house and doing the food together, and sometimes we will go to Chinatown to see lion dance or dragon dance."

Many will choose to spend the day with loved ones because the festival is seen as a time for families to come together to strengthen bonds of friendship.

In Portsmouth, some families are holding virtual celebrations.

Albert Choi, Chairman of the Portsmouth Chinese Association said: "On New Year's Day we will go to visit all our elders to pay our respects and for the children the most exciting thing for them is to receive the Chinese New Year lucky money; the little red packets with money inside that they can spend on whatever they want."